Friday, December 12, 2008

Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix) – The Prodigy

In this picture, I’m somewhere in the middle of all those thrashing arms and legs of 2100+ crazy people. It seems that everyone told me I was insane, too, for wanting to do this to myself, and I realized how right they were when the race started. I don’t remember how many times I got elbowed, kicked or slapped. I do recall getting hit on my ear so hard it rang – and immediately thought, ‘Wow, it’s like a Charles Dickens-type novel where the kid gets his ears boxed. Or is it cuffed? Maybe boxed.’ Hey, you got to keep yourself entertained somehow, right?

Anyhow, I’m swimming along, feeling a little cold, but not too bad, trying to remember to keep slightly kicking to keep my legs at the surface of the water to minimize drag, but not too much that my legs are wore out before the rest of the day.

Then, about a half-mile in, I cramp. My left calf just charley-horsed up, right after somebody makes contact with my left leg and I move my foot ever so slightly out of its normal position. I can’t exactly stop to stretch the cramp out – there are too many people around me for me to just hold up traffic. So I just keep trying to swim, while at the same time, doing anything I can think of to get rid of the cramp. I never felt so uncoordinated in my life – it’s like I was trying to pat my head and rub my belly… and jump rope at the same time.

It must have kept me preoccupied, because before I know it, I am at the turnaround for the swim back to transition. Actually, I was about 50 yards past the turn…a kayak came up to me to tell me that I was missing the turn and going off course. So I corrected my direction, and started swimming back. Right about that time I started smelling what seemed to be horse manure. I didn’t know why.

I knew that the bike course took us past a landfill on the Maricopa Indian Reservation, and I knew that the “lake/river” we were swimming in wasn’t otherwise open for swimming, so it made me wonder why the water would smell so bad. I quickly tried to put it out of my head, since I didn’t really want to think that I was swimming in effluent.

The swim back seemed to take forever. I knew I was swimming with the current, but it sure didn’t feel like it. Every time I kept looking up to see how far I had to go, it seemed like I hadn’t gone anywhere. After what seemed like an eternity, I started to see the bridge that marked about 500 yards to go and I put on some more speed. I made the turn to swim to the water exit, and put on a little more speed, just so I could navigate all the openings where folks weren’t swimming.

There wasn’t a ramp – just steps to climb out of the water. I put my hand up for the volunteer to help me out of the water, and immediately BOTH calves cramped up. I just about fell back into the water. I could barley climb the steps, and every step I took was pain. My calves hurt so bad, I could barely walk to get my wetsuit taken off. They had me sit down to peel the suit off, and when I angled my feet for the legs of the suit to slide off, the cramps got even worse. I could barely walk to the transition area, let alone run. As I walked to get my bike gear, I dropped my swim goggles. I turned around to get them, but the guy behind me scooped them up, handed them to me, and continued to jog to the transition. One of the cheering fans shouted, “That’s good karma!” I can only assume she meant for him, because I certainly didn’t have it.

I did manage to see the time clock when I got out of the water – 76 minutes – and was extremely pleased with the time. I had hoped to be around 80 minutes, and was happy to see the cramps didn’t slow me down much on the swim, especially since it was the first (and shortest) leg of the day. But the transition to bike took me a long time – 12 minutes, because I could barely get my bike gear on, and because it hurt so bad to move around.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Take It Off – The Donnas

Sunday morning at 4 AM was when the alarm was supposed to go off. Of course, I wake up about 5 minutes before. I shave, get dressed, eat some oatmeal and a peanut-butter-banana sandwich, grab my nutrition needs for the race, and head downstairs for the taxi (I had to drop my bike off the day before).

It was a swarm of people. 2100+ competitors plus the 3000 or so volunteers swamped the area. Not to mention all of the family and friends there to cheer their athletes on or help them get ready.

It wasn’t terribly cold, but with a breeze, it was cold enough to hold off as long as possible stripping down to my swimwear. I waited to put on the wetsuit until the last possible minute – which was about an hour before race start, since I still had to wait in a ridiculous line for the portajohns.

The pros race started at 6:50, ours started at 7, so at 6:30 they started herding us to the waters edge. Like lemmings, we jumped off the pier, and into the water, since we actually had to swim to the start of the swim portion. I know, weird.

I held off until after the pros started, and with about 6 minutes to go, I jumped in…and just about jumped back out of the water – it was cold! Official temp was 63 degrees. Only a few of us didn’t have full-length wetsuits – I had one that I borrowed from my friend/colleague Todd that was sleeveless. I wore a swim cap under my race swim cap, and still my forehead hurt like I was in the winter winds of Michigan without a hat. I swam up to the start area, which kind of warmed me up enough to tolerate treading water until the cannon went off.

Then it was a mass of humanity.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Troublemaker - Weezer

The original Ironman, held every year in Hawaii, has become the championship event. Every year at races around the world, people attempt to qualify for the Kona event, in both full- and half-distance races. That’s how Ironman Arizona came to be. So that’s where I went, since it was the last race of the year, and believe me, I would need all year to prepare for it.

Unfortunately, on September 19, 2 months before the race, I was riding my bike to a swim workout and got hit in a roundabout by a car from behind. It wrecked my wheel, my shorts, my helmet – and me. Luckily, I escaped with minor injuries, though my right shoulder hurt no matter how I moved it for a solid 4 days. I was skinned up on my knees, right hip, left palm, right elbow, and in a variety of other places. The lady that hit me thought she passed me before the roundabout, but she did not. She further failed to pay attention to the road in front of her when she exited out of the roundabout to clip my wheel with her front bumper.

At first, I thought the damage was minor, and got the lady’s name and number in case something came up. I didn’t call the cops because I hadn’t been hit by a car before…and I was probably still a bit dazed and thankful the injuries were very minor.

I wobbled away from the accident and went to the bike store, where they told me the wheel needed to be sent out for repair – it needed a whole new rim, and only the manufacturer could make the repair. In the meantime, for me to keep training, I would need to buy a new rear wheel. They also told me it was very important to go file a police report, especially if I wanted to have her insurance pay for the wheel repair. So after getting a ride home, I filed an accident report and tried to call the lady to get her insurance information.

Here’s where it takes a bad turn. After a delay of a few days, the lady’s husband calls me and after hearing my story of the accident, wouldn’t give me his insurance. Incorrectly, he thought since the damage (I was only asking for them to pay for the cost of the rear wheel; I would replace the helmet and shorts out of my own pocket) was less than their insurance deductible, they would have to pay it out of pocket. (I’ve since learned that isn’t true, deductibles apply only to your own damage, in this case, their deductible only counted in repairing their front bumper.) Anyway, he told me he would talk it over with his wife (wouldn’t he have done that already?) and get back to me.

After a week-plus, I had a feeling they weren’t going to be helping me out. So I had to call them again, and let them know that since I didn’t have their insurance information, if they didn’t want to pay for the wheel, I did have the option of small claims court – though if I had to go that far, it would have to be for the cost of the repair, the temporary wheel, the helmet, and the shorts.

So the husband (Did I mention that he is a partner in one of the biggest law firms here in Kansas City? No? Well, he is. And his specialty seems to be finance and tax law) calls me back almost immediately (amazing) and tells me that his wife feels she did nothing wrong, that I was the one at fault, and that they wouldn’t be doing anything to help me out. He told me to go ahead and file a suit. So, still not having their insurance information, I do. A couple days later, I get a call from her. She’s going to counter-sue me for the damage to her front bumper, and tells Lisa that I hit her with my bike (despite that it was my back wheel and her front bumper as we were traveling around the roundabout in the same direction) and that I was “illegally passing on the right” and rode across the flow of traffic at a roundabout exit. But, if I dropped it, she wouldn’t file. I told her I’d rather let the judge decide who was at fault – I know my rights as a bicyclist are the same as a motor vehicle, and her “pass” was anything but in a safe and prudent manner, especially so close to a roundabout. We went through the entrance to the roundabout at the same time – I VIVIDLY recall thinking that I was glad she didn’t take the first turnout because I would have been smeared all over the side of her car.

A few days after that, I get the summons letter. A day after that, we started getting contacted by two TV shows – Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown, wanting us to come onto their shows!

By now, it’s a week from Ironman Day. So let’s get back to the action of the triathlon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid – The Offspring

Think about how far you go in a car on a 2-hour drive. Now, think about how that would feel if you had to swim, bike, and run that entire distance instead of riding in a car. Yep, it’s far. 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, and when that’s done, a full marathon – 26.2 miles of running. There’s a reason it’s considered the ultimate one-day individual endurance event. And if it were easy, it wouldn’t be called an Ironman. Few people ever undertake it. And even fewer achieve it.

Full-blown recap

Over the next few days, I will post my entire recap of the ironman. Here we go!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I won!

In the matter of Steve Tomac v. Jonalee McLaughlin, I am victorious!

Even though the Judge didn't give me the entire amount I was asking for (either I didn't do a good enough job explaining it all to him, or he had his own thoughts), he agreed that I was NOT at fault.

I wonder if this means that SHE was at fault, she is subject to tickets/police action, etc. since she caused an accident, which is an infraction of Missouri law.

It probably didn't help her either when she AND her husband/partner-in-a-big-law-firm-lawyer both admitted to not providing insurance information when requested as a result of an accident (which it is a crime not to do so in Missouri) and THEN she testifies to the judge as part of her case that she "refuses to break the law." Ummmm, perjury, anyone?

Anyway, Jonalee can now pay for the damage she caused to her front bumper, too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

na, na, na-na-na!

So is it wrong to have the song Ironman stuck in my head? I submit that it is not.

Here's a quick and dirty recap - a full one is coming very very soon, I promise! I've just had to deal with a ton of other stuff - my court date, my yearly performance review, and a mishap at the bank that resulted in about $200 of fees that required some immediate attention.

OK - so the swim was good, despite the CRUSH of humanity - 2100 people all at once. Imagine the thrashing and kicking! Anyway, I got a charlie horse in my left calf about 1/2 mile in - so it hurt like hell to try to swim it off when I couldn't really stop to do anything about it. And when I got out of the water, both calves charlie-horsed up. I think the cold water was the main culprit - I hadn't done any cold-water open swimming, and my wetsuit had no sleeves - it was just a bib.

So I could barley walk through the first transition, let alone try to move quickly. I did manage the swim in 76 minutes - about 4 minutes below my goal time, so I was very surprised (OH, and I also overswam the turn, so to come out when I did was AWESOME!)

T1 took me about 12 minutes to get ready for the bike - I was trying to get my calves to cooperate with me the whole time. I headed out on the bike, and I just have to say, the throngs of people cheering us on was nothing short of inspiring!

I spent a lot of my time on the bike trying to get my calves to stop screaming, so when I finished the first lap with an average speed of about 19.5 mph, I was pretty happy. But part of that was the wind blowing us back into town on the way back from the out-and-back loop - I averaged close to 30 mph on the way back. But then A) it got warm, B) the wind started shifting, and C) I started hurting. I stopped at one of the aid stations on the second lap to slather on vaseline on my neck from the chafing the collar of the wetsuit gave me, despite putting on bodyglide. I stoppped at the half-way point to eat - I had to stand upright as I could not get the food to settle in very well. The HammerFuel I had with me started tasting like crap, too. I shouldn't have tried to flavor it myself.

On the third lap, the wind had completely changed, so the way back was fully into the wind. That slowed me down. I also had to stop a few times on the lap to stretch out my back - it had been hurting the whole week leading up to the race, and it was screaming at me to get off the bike and get upright.

I got in for T2, took my time changing because my back, legs, and shoulders were killing me. I knew with the blown calves I wouldn't be running much, so the question became how far off from my goal time of 13:30 would I be? I knew that I could still make it if I walked the whole run course, but that wouldn't be very sporting, would it?

I walked to the first aid station, where they had a cramp/massage station. I knew I needed them to work on my calves. Luckily, the day before, I bought a pair of compression running socks and it was the best purchase I made in preparation for this event. After the rub down, I tried to run a few times, but my calves still would have none of it. I ended up walking the whole first lap.

On the second lap, I stopped again at the massage station, this time having them stretch out my entire legs. That seemed to help, along with the walking and the compression socks. A fter walking uphill for the next 1/2 mile, I tried a jogging for a few minutes. My heart rate shot up, but my legs didn't hurt so bad. I knew that once the sun went down, I would be able to push a little harder. I started running for a couple minutes, walking several more, and picked up the pace. The third lap, I was able to run from aid station to aid station, walking through them to give the water and gatorade a chance to get digested.

At the start of the third lap, I started calculating if I could break 15 hours. I thought it would be close. That gave me the motivation to speed up. With about 3 miles to go, I thought I could break 14:45. I still had to stop and walk on the inclines - my calves wouldn't let me run up them - but by the last mile, I was running. The last 300 yards, it seemed as if all the pain was starting to melt away. The last 100 was a sprint for me - I wanted to catch up with a guy in front of me, and once I did, my legs forgot how to slow down - I couldn't stop myself.

I crossed the line at 14:41:44...which was fitting for my number, #411.

As for court - the judge heard our case yesterday, but didn't make a decision - he's mailing it out in the next few days.

More to come very soon!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

in roughly 24 hours...

...I *WILL* be Ironman!

2.4 miles swimming. 112 miles biking. 26.2 miles running. The toughest one-day endurance event....and a lifetime of memories made in one day.

Here's the music that has kept me motivated, got my adrenaline pumping, and hopefully I can sing over and over in my head to keep me going tomorrow:

1. Born Too Slow - The Crystal Method
2. You're Gonna Go Far, Kid - The Offspring
3. Troublemaker - Weezer
4. Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix)- The Prodigy
5. Bleed It Out (Steve's Ironman Edit) - Linkin Park
6. Take It Off - The Donnas
7. Why Do You Love Me - Garbage
8. Stronger - Kanye West
9. 'Til I Collapse - Eminem
10. Move Along - The All-American Rejects
11. Devour - Shinedown

There you have it - Steve's Ironman Run List, 2008

T-minus 18 hours...

Almost time. Got a short run in today, and went I got back to log it, here's where I stand in terms of prep work. Not nearly enough compared to others, and certainly not enough to qulify for a Kona spot, but hey, like that was going to happen anyway.

Anyway, since the beginning of my training, I have run over 400 miles, biked nearly 1300 miles, and swam about 21 miles. I've put most of my training time into running, since that is where I am the weakest. Which makes me a little nervous for the swim and the bike. I think if I had to do it all over again, which I DON'T, I'd aim for 500 miles running, at least 2000 miles biking, and 30-plus miles of swimming.

The course looks great. I am ready.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"It's Shrinkage!"

-George Costanza

The river was open for swiming this morning, and when I jumped in, I immediately regretted it. 64 degrees (17.5 C)!!! I immediately thought, 'what did I get myself into?'

It's cold. Very, very cold. And my wetsuit has no sleeves.

On the flipside, on Sunday, that hour-plus of swimming won't be so bad... the water temperature might feel kind of nice once I'm warmed up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


From this year's Ironman World Championship in Hawaii:

Here's the link, If I can figure out how to insert a video, I will

Judge Judy...and Judge Joe Brown

Well, my court case is getting crazier - I got contacted by both these daytime TV shows about bringing my case to them instead of the Platte County court. Calling this an odd case is an understatement.

I'm not planning on going on TV, so don't look for me on daytime TV anytime soon.

Court date is set for the 25th, and I'm sticking with it. The only problem is that the court hearing is the day after I get back from Tempe, and 2 days after the Ironman. So I think I'll be going slow around the courtroom.

in Phoenix...and ready to rock and roll!

Got into Phoenix (well, actually Tempe) today...and my first job (after finding my way to the hotel) was to put together my bike. I shipped it out a week ago to get here (versus paying the airline $175 EACH WAY!!!)

Oh, and it might be a little gross, but I didn't fully clean my bike up - I left a streak of blood on it from the bike accident. That way, when I see it, I know what I had to go through for all this!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I bleed Green (and White)

Like many that complete an Ironman, I plan to get a tattoo to commemorate it. Most get the ironman logo, also known as the M-dot.

But I am going one better by incorporating my alma mater, Michigan State. If you know me, you'll know why. And you'll know why the ink will be green.

Here's what it looks like:

Friday, November 7, 2008

The accident: a round-up on the roundabout

I realize I didn't do what i said I would the other day. So here's a run-down on the accident

All things considered, I got lucky - it wasn't so bad. The worse stuff is all the shenanigans that have taken place since then. So here's how it goes:

I was riding my bike down a hill and into a roundabout (aka traffic circle) when a vehicle came up behind me. We entered the traffic circle/roundabout at the same time, despite it being a narrow opening. I remained in the right side of the lane, keeping a close eye on the car next to me as well as the road, as well as any other vehicles that may also enter the traffic circle. Before I could slow down to allow this vehicle to go ahead of me (and keep me in a safe position away it), it slowed down, presumably to let me continue through the traffic circle. I was about 6-10 feet ahead of it when out of the corner of my eye, I saw the angle of the vehicle change and knew I was going to be struck from behind.

The front bumper hit my rear wheel, I crashed to the ground, getting scraped and bruised, my shorts were tore up on the right side, and my helmet was damaged. (I remember thinking 'Thank goodness I am wearing a helmet because that curb is coming at my head really fast!' I floated/bounced/something over the curb and rolled onto the sidewalk while the car stopped - a Honda CRV.

I checked myself over for serious injuries - strawberries on my right palm, elbows, knees, and abrasions on my hip, knees, and a few other places. Nothing broken, though something very well could have. After the adrenaline wore off, that's when my left knee hurt like crazy - nice deep bruise there, a deep bruise on my upper left arm, and my right shoulder hurt like crazy for he next 3 days, like I'd torn the rotator cuff, or close to it.

I picked up my bike and noticed the rear wheel was damaged. The driver got out of her vehicle, and asked if I was alright. I told her my injuries were minor, and having never been hit by a car before, when she asked if we should call the police, I declined, since I didn't feel my injuries were severe enough to warrant doing so. I figured the police had better things to do. I requested, though, that we trade names, numbers, and addresses in case something came up later; her front bumper has some nice scrapes that showed the blue from the bottom of my shoe, and I knew I didn't cause this accident, and thought i should at least get her information to protect myself. (She actually asked, after looking at her bumper and then my wheel if we should "just call it even." I didn't have a reply to that.)

Turns out, after wobbling to the bike store on a very bad wheel, that it was damaged beyond any repairs they could do at the shop. It needed to get sent back to the manufacturer so they could replace the junked rim. It would take a couple of weeks to do that, and so I had to buy a new wheel so I could keep training (after my wounds scabbed up, of course).

Does it get more interesting? Maybe if you are into Law & Order or a courtroom drama. Stay tuned!

so not motivated

I was supposed to run Wednesday. Did I? No. It was rainy and cold, so I rode the bike for an hour. I thought, "I'll run tomorrow."

I should have run Thursday...or ridden 2.5 hours. Did I? No. I did nothing. And I liked it.

I was supposed to swim 4000 yeards this morning. Did I? No. And I am feeling guilty for doing nothing the last few days. In my defense, it's not the best weather, and yesterday I had to drive to Columbia for an all-day meeting.

Yep, making excuses.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

well, this is interesting

I've been using a website called to track all my workouts. It is AWESOME! if you want, you can go and look up all my workouts and see what and when I did what I did. my user ID is tri_tomac

If you want to see what I'm up to - just look to the right. How cool is that!

here's a look at the graphed run workouts:



Monday, November 3, 2008

20 miles......ouch.

Well, last night I ran 20 miles. Holy crap am I stiff this morning. At about the 15 mile mark I started to wonder why I thought this would be a good idea. At 18 miles, I thought what I would be like on race day - after I already biked over a hundred miles? Let's just say that the thoughts going through my head weren't good. The good news is that the race course is very very flat, and here at home there is nothing but hills. I think that should work out in my favor. It took me 4 hours last night...the last mile was the worst, going uphill most of the way with nothing left in my legs but soreness.

Coming later today - I'll give you a quick rundown on the car accident's particulars. As a preview, I will tell you that now I hate traffic circles and small SUVs. (OK, I already didn't care for small SUVs, but now I hate them even more!)

Friday, October 31, 2008

court date set

a few weeks back, I got hit by a car in a traffic circle. I won't go into details since the case is pending (trust me, I will tell you all about it when it's done), but the date has been set for Nov. 25. Justice shall be mine!

today's workout: 5,000 yards

hit the pool today, and started swimming while the boy's swim team came in for a practice. I was till swimming as they did their drills. I was still swimming as they finished their drills. I was still swimming when they finished their workout. i was still swimming when another group of folks came in. I was still swimming when they left. Then I got out. So yeah. 2 hours and 15 minutes of swimming. The biggest problem is that the chlorine irritates me so much that for the rest of the day I am sneezing and having a runny nose. I need to find a way to stop that.

200 yds warm up
200 yds drills
6x100 yds pull paddles
200 yds mental
6x500 yds distance
12x50 yds speed (4 sets of 3x50 yds each)
200 yds cool down

Monday, October 27, 2008

I like having an uncommon last name

Now if only I could get that guy in Germany using "tomac" as his main blog address, I could fight my cousin's company for the use of it. 

What company? Glad you asked. Check out this site: or go to

First Post

Well, this is it. Impressed? I'm not. If you read this, drop a note. Or don't. Either way, I won't be disappointed since I have such low expectations anyway.

Coming soon, I'll post my Ironman training misadventures, as well as a nice little writeup of the 140.6 mile event itself. 
Stay Tuned (or don't)!